There is nothing in the world more heartbreaking than losing a child. When one Utah family faced the tragic news that their beautiful 18-month-old daughter Elora battling brain cancer had just 10 days to live instead of the six months they previously thought, friends, family, and neighbors sprang into action to offer this little girl an inspiring message of love and hope.
Elora lost her battle with brain cancer at the tender age of 1½. Her illness was described in a post on the family’s GoFundMe page:
“A CT scan was ordered to rule out other possibilities, a safety measure. What doctors found was devastating. Elora had grown a tumor in her brain. The tumor was deep in the center of her cerebellum and was blocking the fluid in her brain from draining causing pressure on her brain. The doctors recognized the size and location of the tumor required immediate surgery. The next morning Elora was rushed into a planned 4-6 hour surgery that turned into an 8-hour operation. The tumor was successfully removed, but unfortunately, the lab results identified the tumor as cancerous.”
Elora’s dad, Ryan Horsley tells Babble, “Elora has always been tiny, but full of personality. One of my favorite memories was giving her a lime popsicle for the first time. She was so excited when she saw it, then when I gave it to her, she scrunched up her face, stuck her tongue out, and swatted it away.”
Horsley describes his daughter as independent and curious and shared some sweet details about Elora’s charm and gentle nature. He tells Babble, “At home, we always loved to kiss her toes, so when we went to the hospital even near the end she offered up her toes to every nurse or doctor that came into the room.”
The Horsley’s neighbors have been incredibly supportive. “People have brought food, watched our older kids, helped with treatment research, cried with us, and countless other acts of love and kindness,” Horsley shared. “It has truly been an amazing thing to watch.”
“I think Brindi, my wife, heard about the lights through one of our friends here in the neighborhood,” he shares. “I actually saw a post on social media asking for inflatables to be donated. I didn’t see her initial reaction, but I know I broke down crying when I found out. Aiden (9) and Isabelle (5), our two older kids, were proud to tell all of the neighbors (both kids and adults) that Elora was their sister.”
The family borrowed a golf cart to take their ailing daughter out to see the lights last Tuesday. The proud father says of Elora’s reaction, “She loved them and her eyes lit up while we drove through. We took her through one more time on Wednesday night. Seeing the lights was the last time we took Elora out of the house before she passed.”
Cancer is a horrific tragedy that touches 15,780 kids each year in the United States, according to the American Childhood Cancer Association. For families going through it, Horsley offers a message of hope:
“Without getting too religious, we believe that we will see Elora again. I think that is the thing that holds us together. I would also say to lean on family and friends. So many people want to help, but aren’t sure what to do or say. One of the biggest miracles we have seen these last two months is the incredible outpouring of love and support, but also how it has mended family relationships and brought us closer together. We’ve asked anyone who wanted to, to write a short note to Elora for us to put in her stocking this Christmas as a way to make sure she is as big a part of this holiday as possible.”
Elora’s story may be one of loss and sadness, but it is also one of hope, bravery, love, and the tenacious spirit of one amazing kid.